On The Front Foot: Sky to bring us sub-continental delights...live from Isleworth
Test Match Special are in India, Sky have stayed at home. It is a tale of money, politics and the failure to understand that professional sport only exists as a public spectacle. Shortly before England's tour began, with the relevant broadcasting contracts having been signed, the Board of Control for Cricket in India decided to up the ante.
They asked TMS, the flagship BBC radio programme, for an extra £50,000 and Sky, which has shown every England overseas tour since 1990, for an extra £500,000 to provide studios at the Test match venues. Both assumed they had already paid for this privilege in the original negotiations and both declined the demand for more.
TMS, however, were in a trickier position than Sky. Try to commentate in England from television pictures and they would run the risk of providing a second-hand service. But the BBC could not be seen to be spending more of licence payers' cash on mere cricket.
They did not cough up and are said to be extremely pleased with the outcome. It seems that the Beeb negotiated the radio deal through a third party acting as brokers with the BCCI. The responsibility for the gap in the smallprint lay with the agents, who are believed to have made up the difference.
It means that Jonathan Agnew et al can scrutinise the action first hand. Aggers arrives tomorrow and is most excited, to judge from his tweets on the matter.
But Sky will not be here. The Tests will still be shown in all their glory because they have the rights, but the vaunted commentary team will have to miss out on sub-continental delights and will be commentating via a TV screen in a studio in Isleworth. It is unprecedented and Sky are probably still reeling at the BCCI's chutzpah. But viewers may not see the join. TV commentators always commentate from TV screens. The downside is that they will have to be up at 3am.
Johnny comes good
Much of the excitement about returning to Ahmedabad was to be driven again by the beautifully self-styled Johnny Rickshaw, the slickest rickshaw wallah in the world. Six years ago, he took The Independent all over this city. Ahmedabad born and bred, he looked and sounded like Dean Martin, with that relaxed drawl, easy good looks and a quiff to die for but spoke about cricket with the poetry of John Arlott. Johnny had plans: "I wanna run a fleet of cars with leather seats and big wing mirrors." Dreams, that was all. A call was necessary to Johnny (aka Shaikh Mukarram) upon arrival in the city last Tuesday. "Love to Mr Independent but I've given up the rickshaw business. I'm running a fleet of cars with leather seats and big wing mirrors." Such vehicles being beyond the budget, he offered his brother-in-law, Abbu Akrar, as an alternative rickshaw. Abbu is the most amenable of men, he might or might not know his cricket ("England great team, Pietersen great man") but he is not Johnny.
Yorkshire monkey business
To much glee, some monkeys fleetingly halted play as they ran across the pitch at the Motara Stadium on Friday. It took Tim Bresnan to put it into perspective. "We get them down at my local cricket club all the time," he said. Watch out next time you are in Poplar Street, home of Townville in Castleford.
Tales of terror
It is the 150th anniversary of Terror Turner's birth on Friday. Terror, proper name Charlie, was the first great Australian bowler, the scourge of Englishmen on wet and worn wickets, hence the nickname. He was the second bowler to take 100 Test wickets, three days later than Johnny Briggs of England, in the same match, and he still holds the record for the fewest innings (30) to reach the landmark. After retiring from cricket, sadly he became a banker.
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